The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming entrenched in both consumer and enterprise IT as both a technology priority and a buzzword. As IT practitioners continue the ongoing evaluation of the rapidly growing array of IT tools and technologies available to the Enterprise, it might be time to question how strategic the IoT will be to the successful and smart enterprise of the near future.
Perhaps it would be best to discuss the IoT by first removing its “buzzword” status. The IoT is nothing more than a convergence of today’s pre-existing top IT Trends—think smart mobility, cloud, biometrics, and big data. But it is the true convergence of these technologies—working together seamlessly as interoperable parts of a whole—which is the goal and should define the term “Internet of Things.”
The data should be familiar. By 2020, IoT will be an $8.9 trillion market with over 212 billion connected “things,” meaning that within the next 5 years, the connectedness of everything will be one of the world’s largest industries.
But the question is not “will the IoT be important” but is rather, “will it be strategic to the enterprise?” Will planning for and installing “IoT” ready devices now result in success over your competitors?
Adoption of the IoT
At its core, the IoT is technological equipment that is connected to a network enabling information transfer, and improving efficiencies. The benefits can be vast for enterprises.
First, businesses can accelerate product development and deployment cycles by unifying information from diverse sources and applications. Second, the IoT introduces new revenue streams by allowing businesses to take advantage of the latest smart technologies before their competition. Finally, all these new connected devices produce a ton of data that can be disseminated and quantified for more reliable outcomes.
Because IoT connects tens, and eventually, hundreds of billions of active devices that capture and project data that broadly enriches the network, both consumer and enterprise technologies will continue to be important, and both will affect the enterprise. Consumer products manufacturers like Philips, GE, (and now Google ) and carmakers are racing to connect their products to internet networks for this reason. This connection will generate incredible accumulate data value, and that data will have enormous competitive consequence.
Smart enterprises should be starting to build their IoT ecosystems, leveraging new technologies and growing their network effect in order to be the most appealing and valuable offering within their vertical industries.
Where the IoT will impact the Enterprise?
The best techniques for exploiting the IoT to create business value are still emerging. But, it’s becoming apparent that the IoT will affect the enterprise in the following ways:
- Creating smart, connected workplaces. The smart, connected workplace is full of emerging IoT related technologies. Think wearables, 3D printers, and any other sensor or control technology that can be connected to the network.
- Creating new, quantifiable business activities. With business process monitoring, control, and optimization technologies connected, disparate, previously unmeasurable business activities in the office will be systematically categorized and improved. Wearables and technologies like smartdust will be instrumental in capturing deeper levels of data. Technologies refined to process this big data will be applied to manage, orchestrate, and extract meaning from the vast streams of digital knowledge elicited from daily enterprise activities.
- Automating products and services. Companies will first IoT enable their products and services, but then soon design them for and around IoT.
- Creating new business intelligence. IoT network connection will have profound new levels of insight into how the world around us works and interacts with technology. Like Big Data, IoT will help businesses adapt and become better attuned to new realities.
Staying engaged and connected with customers via UC
In short, the IoT represents a zero-sum presence in our customer’s lives. By being connected in a meaningful way 24/7 with millions of our customers through IoT-enabled systems of engagement, we can ensure our organizations stay relevant and keep the competition from doing so.
There is a lot going on in the background of the IoT discussion to bring this meaningful content to the consumer that involves Unified Communications. What’s exciting from a UC perspective is that the IoT integrates into mainstream enterprise systems and supports interoperable real-world, on-line end-to-end business applications.
So, in short, yes, IoT is strategic to the enterprise. There isn’t much time, so build your ecosystem, accumulate knowledge, and get it delivering and capturing data as soon as possible.